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NDFP: Sagay massacre shows evils of hacienda system

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) condemned the massacre of nine peasants, including two minors, in Sagay City, Negros Occidental Saturday night.

The group tasked to co-craft with its government counterparts free land distribution programs for poor farmers blamed the failure of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to implement social justice through genuine agrarian reform.

“The incident underscores the evils of the hacienda system,” NDFP RWC-SER chairperson Juliet de Lima said in a statement.

Nine farmers, including two minors, were fired upon by around 40 armed men at Hacienda Nene, Sagay City. They were subsequently shot on their heads and three victims’s bodies were burned by their killers.

Members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, the victims started a land occupation campaign earlier to plant vegetables to tide them over the expected dead season of the sugarcane crops.

“As long as a handful of landlords monopolize land ownership and perpetuate their power through force, the Sagay 9 will not be the last victims of agrarian-related violence. Agrarian unrest will persist as the peasant masses continue to suffer from widespread poverty, high indebtedness, severe hunger and malnutrition,” de Lima added.

The NDFP RWC-SER also said President Rodrigo Duterte and the militarists in his cabinet have blood on their hands for terminating the peace negotiations that would have resulted in the adoption of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER)’s section on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD).

“The draft ARRD, which was scheduled for signing last November before Duterte abruptly cancelled the peace talks provides for the free distribution of big landholdings and landed estates including lands targeted by the government for distribution, haciendas that are under the control of private individuals or entities, disputed lands with local agrarian reform and peasant struggles and lands already occupied by farmers through various forms of land cultivation and collective farming activities,” de Lima said.

“The break-up of land monopolies and free land distribution are the just, necessary and urgent corrective measures to the centuries-old social injustices suffered by the peasantry,” she added.

A day before the massacre, Duterte admitted in his speech that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-led revolution would not go away within his lifetime.

“When I die, the NPA (New People’s Army) will still be here. When Joma Sison dies, the NPA will still be here,” Duterte said, referring to the CPP founder and NDFP chief political consultant.

Sison for his part said Duterte is correct in saying that the NPA will continue to exist even after the professor and his former student are gone “…if by implication he means that the root causes of the armed conflict must be addressed and solved by social, economic and political reforms.”

“It is up to him to end his position of having terminated the peace negotiations with Proclamation 360. The standing policy of the NDFP is to negotiate with the GRP anytime he is ready to resume the peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and further agreements,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NFSW: 172 farmer-activists killed under Duterte

The massacre of nine land reform beneficiaries in Sagay City, Negros Occidental Saturday night brought the number of killed farmer-activists to 172 under the Rodrigo Duterte regime, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said.

In condemning the massacre of the nine farmers, the groups blamed the Duterte government as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their repeated “red-baiting of farmers conducting land occupation activities” for the carnage.

“On April 20, 2018 Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army, said that the land cultivation areas (LCA’s) being maintained by agricultural sugar workers and farmers in Negros Island are in fact New People’s Army (NPA) rebels communal farms,” UMA and NFSW secretary general John Milton Lozande said.

The NFSW earlier said that the goal of setting up land cultivation areas is to ward off the inevitable hunger brought by the “Tiempo Muerto” (dead season in the sugar industry) on properties covered by agrarian reform.

The lands subjected to farmers’ occupation remain undistributed and idle, NFSW said.

The farmers wanted to plant vegetables, banana, corn and root crops on these lands to feed their families when there is no work to be had during Tiempo Muerto, the group said.

The victims began their LCA in the 75 hectare hacienda that morning.

The nine casualties and the four survivors were resting in a farm hut when they were strafed by about 40 armed men believed to be Revolutionary Proletarian Army members working as hired goons of the landlords.

Initial reports said that the perpetrators subsequently fired at the heads of the victims at close range and even tried to burn their bodies.

Initial data culled from the area reveal that a certain Barbara Tolentino owns the hacienda and maintains a number of goons there.

Earlier, two leaders of NFSW were also killed in Sagay City.

Feudalism and death

Flora A. Jemola, chairperson of NFSW-Sagay City was killed on December 21, 2017 in an LCA area in Hacienda Susan. She died from 13 stab wounds by suspected elements of paramilitary forces reportedly under the command of the 12th IB of the Philippine Army.

This was followed by the killing of Ronald Manlanat, a member of a local chapter of NFSW in Hacienda Joefred on February 21, 2018, again by suspected paramilitaries under the 12th IB of the Philippine Army. The killers emptied a whole magazine of M16 bullets onto his head.

The Sagay Massacre last Saturday hikes to 45 the number of peasants killed in Negros Island under the Duterte regime.

NFSW said that of the 424,130 hectares of sugar lands in Negros Island, 34 percent are owned by only 1,860 big landlords with 50 hectares or more each.

Thirty percent of the land is owned by 6,820 big and small landlords with 10 to 49 hectares each.

Meanwhile, the majority of 53,320 farmers and agricultural workers only own 36 percent of the sugar lands, the group reported.

The NFSW estimates that 70 percent of sugar lands that have been distributed by the government through its various land reform schemes had been leased back to the landlords due mainly to lack of support services and non-land support facilities that forced Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries to lease their land.

“Sugar workers in haciendas (plantations), on the average, receive a measly P500 to P750 weekly wages all year round. Minimum wage is pegged at only P245 per day for the farm workers but in many haciendas, P80-P120 a day is still prevalent,” NFSW said.

Saturday’s massacre received widespread condemnation throughout the country and was even reported by media outfits abroad.

Widespread condemnation

Makabayan senatorial candidate and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares vehemently condemned the massacre of 9 NFSW members.

“That is really absurd because the issue of land is a legitimate issue. This is an attempt of the Duterte govt to quell any form of protest by crminalizng legitimate demands,” Colmenares said in a statement.

“We demand an immediate impartial probe on this massacre and we will not stop until justice has been served,” Colmenares  said.

Fellow senatorial candidate Erin Tañada said he is disheartened by the incident.

“This is not the first time that farmers have lost their lives trying to gain possession of the lands awarded to them, and I fear it won’t be the last. This is a persistent problem in the implementation of agrarian reform,” Tañada said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

9 farmers massacred in Sagay City

Nine farmers, including two minors and four women, were massacred in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last night, Saturday.

In a flash report posted this morning, Aksyon Radyo Bacolod said nine were killed in a strafing incident at Hacienda Nene, Purok Fire Tree, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City.

The victims were National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) members who were staying in a hut at the place of the incident.

Four others survived the attack, NFSW said.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in an urgent alert said the victims were engaged in a Land Cultivation Area (bungkalan) activity.

Sagay chief of police, Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, said the killings happened around 9:30 p.m.

He added that some of the victims were from different villages while the rest were from Bulanon but not from the hamlet where the plantation is located.

NFSW immediately accused “goons,” a euphemism for private security personnel, and members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, an armed band that had broken away from the communist New People’s Army for the incident in Hacienda Nene, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City, close to 90 kilometers from here.

Sagay Mayor Alfredo Maranon III, son of Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr., expressed “shock” and condemned the killings “in the strongest possible terms” as he ordered police to “do everything possible to bring justice to the nine families that lost loved ones” and promised to extend all possible assistance to the victims’ kin.

NFSW officer Danilo Tabora confirmed that some 75 members of the union had occupied the land Saturday morning, a day after the harvest on the sugarcane plantation, as part of a “bungkalan” campaign to till lands covered by the government’s agrarian reform program.

Mayor Maranon confirmed that the land was under a “notice of coverage” from the Department of Agrarian Reform but explained that this meant this was still an early stage in the process of distributing the land to beneficiaries.

Sagay police named the victims as:

• Eglicerio Villegas, 36 – Bulanon

• Angelipe Arsenal – Bulanon

• Alias Pater – Barangay Plaridel

• Dodong Laurencio – Plaridel

• Morena Mendoza (female) – Bulanon

• Neknek Dumaguit, female

• Bingbing Bantigue – Plaridel

• Joemarie Ughayon Jr., 17 – Barangay Rafaela Barrera

• Marchtel Sumicad, 17 – Bulanon

According to sources, Hacienda Nene is owned by a certain Atty. Barbara Tolentino and is leased by Bacolod City-based Conpinco Trading.

Reporting from the funeral parlor where the victims had been taken, radio station dyHB said most of them bore headshots and at least three of the bodies were burned.

“We hold the military and the [Rodrigo] Duterte government responsible for said incident,” KMP and UMA said in its alert.

Other sources from the KMP said that they have been other killings at Hacienda Nene prior to the incident.

In December 21, 2017, NFSW-Sagay City chairperson Flora A. Jemola died from 13 stab wounds inflicted by suspected Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) forces under the 12th IB of the Philippine Army.

Last February 21, Ronald Manlanat, a member of a local chapter of NFSW in Hacienda Joefred, Barangay General Luna, Sagay City, was killed by suspected CAFGU members who emptied an entire M16 magazine onto his head.

The NFSW told Kodao that a fact-finding mission is being held at the moment.

The massacre happened as farmers’ groups led by the KMP are commemorating Peasant Month this October in a series of nationally-coordinated activities dubbed October Resistance. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Magsasaka sa Negros, itinuro ang militar sa mga pagpatay

Ni Jo Maline D. Mamangun

Lungsod ng Bacolod—Nagharap ang mga magsasaka at mga lokal na opisyal ng Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental noong Miyerkules, July 18, kaugnay sa mga pagpatay sa naturang bayan mula pa noong Oktubre 2010.

Bilang bahagi ng isinasagawang International Solidarity Mission hinggil sa mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa  ilalim ng gubyerno ni Rodrigo Duterte, nag-usap ang grupo ng mga magsasaka na KAUGMA-ON  (Kapunongan alang sa Ugma sa Gagmay nga Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros) at  Guihulngan City Mayor Carlo Reyes sa tanggapan ng huli.

Inireklamo rin ng mga magsasaka ang malalakihang  operasyong militar sa kanilang mga pamayanan sa ilalim ng “Oplan Kapayapaan” ng pamahalaan na anila’y nagdudulot ng takot sa mga mamamayan.

Ayon sa kanila, walang tigil ang militar sa pang-uupat (harassment), pagsasampa ng gawa-gawang kaso at mga extra-judicial killings sa mga lider at miyembro ng nasabing organisasyon.

Ayon sa KAUGMA-ON, may 23 kaso ng extra-judicial killing sa kanilang lugar simula noong 2016.

Chief of Police Baquiran (left) and Mayor Reyes (right). (Photo by JoMaline Diones-Mamangun)

Subalit itinanggi ni Reyes na may nalalaman siya sa mga pagpatay.

“You’re talking about killings in Guihulngan. Wala akong alam diyan. Only the PNP can answer your question,” ani Reyes sa mga magsasaka.

Dagdag ng alkalde na, ayon sa mga naririnig daw niya, ang mga namamaril ay pawang naka-bonet o naka-helmetkung kaya mahirap makapagtukoy ng pinaghihinalaan ang pulisya.

Ayon naman kay Guihulngan Police officer-in-charge Mario Baquiran na 44 na araw pa lamang siya sa kanyang destino at inaaral niya pa lamang ang mga naitalang pagpatay.

“It’s very hard for us in conducting these investigations because we could not just identify them,” ani ng hepe.

Ngunit ayon sa Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), tanging ang militar ang nagkakainteres na dahasin ang mga magsasaka dahil sa kanilang paglaban na magkaroon ng sariling lupa.

Ikinwento ni John Milton Lozande, Secretary General ng UMA, ang kaso ng brutal na pagpatay kina Endric and Rosalie Calago noong Mayo 2015 na namatay matapos pagbabarilin ang kanilang bahay ng mga pinaghihinalaang sundalo ng 11th Infantry Battalion.

“Merong mga circumstances, circumstantial happenings na nagtuturo sa militar sa pagpatay sa biktimang ito,” ani Lozande.

(Photo by JoMaline Diones-Mamangun)

Dagdag ng lider-magsasaka, mahihirapan ngang mag-imbestiga ang pulisya kung ang militar ang nasa likod ng mga pagpatay.

Siniguro ni Baquiran na ipakukulong niya maging ang mga sundalo kung mapatunayang ang mga ito ang naghahasik ng takot sa mamamayan ng Guihulngan/

Nagkasundo ang mga magsasaka at ang mga opisyal ng lokal na pamahalaan na magsasagawa ng ibayong dayalogo upang maisiwalat ang iba pang kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa naturang bayan.

Kasali ang mga magsasaka, taong-simbahan, misya at iba pang sektong sa naturang ISM na may panawagang “Save Life, Save Guihulngan.” #

Sr Pat’s message to supporters

Sr. Patricia Fox of the Sisters of the Notre Dame of Sion issued this statement after her release from the Bureau of Immigration last April 17.

President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted in a speech yesterday that the nun’s arrest and detention were upon his orders.

Nonetheless, Fox said she intends to stay in the Philippines to continue her mission in helping the poor.

Watch this video by Nadja de Vera of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.

Mensahe ni Sr. Patricia Fox para sa lahat ng sumusumoprta sa kanya. #HandsOffSrPat

Posted by Nadja De Vera on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sr Pat Fox and her people

The Philippine government must have thought her subversive and wanted her punished.

Last April 16, Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents arrested and detained Sr Patricia Fox of the congregation Notre Dame de Sion. The arrest may have stemmed from her recent participation in a human rights fact-finding mission in Mindanao that so-rankled the military. Australian by birth, tall, white and blond, she was obviously a foreigner who they must have thought has no business participating in political activities, particularly those that point out the Rodrigo Duterte regime’s many human rights violations.

But the military and the BI could not be more wrong. Not only did Sr Pat make the Philippines her home for 27 years, she dedicated her mission to helping farmers in their agrarian reform struggles. A volunteer of the peasant group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura in Central Luzon and a human rights defender of long-standing, she has long been considered a compatriot by the farmers and the workers. For them, the kindly nun is more Filipino than most.

When news of her arrest broke out, lawyers and human rights workers rushed to the BI office in Manila to support her. Not long after, nuns and priests followed. Before the night was over, a bishop, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, came.

Still, the BI refused to let her go. The agency wanted the elderly nun investigated for being an “undesirable alien.” Word went round that the government wanted her deported.

Sr Patricia Fox, NDS upon her release from detention. (SINAGBAYAN–Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan photo)

It only galvanized more support for the beleaguered nun. This morning, the rally in downtown Manila organized to defend judicial independence and to denounce US bombing in Syria made a detour to the BI to call for Sr Pat’s release. Before long, more nuns visited and yet another bishop, Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Yniguez, came. Prominent activists and legislators also arrived. It must have been shocking to the BI to witness that their unassuming prisoner is well-loved by many, both prominent and humble, young and old.

Outside of BI, statements flew fast and thick. It did not only come from Manila or from Central Luzon where she does her Godly work. It came from as far sa Mindanao and abroad. Social media lit up with condemnations of her arrest and calls for her release. Photos of her remaining calm and even smiling were shared widely. Politicians who do not care about her work also condemned her arrest.

At three o’clock this afternoon, the BI had no choice but to let Sr Pat go. Still, they threatened her with more investigations. Sr Pat’s troubles with the Duterte regime is just beginning it seems.

Outside of BI’s gates, the nun was mobbed both by supporters and the media. Yet there she was, smiling and radiant. It must have been an ordeal for a 71-year old and frail-looking woman to be arrested and detained for more than 24 hours. This early, though, it is clear who is losing in this struggle. This early, it appears it is this tyrannical government and its highhandedness that is undesirable. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

City councilor, lawyer, activists included in Negros town police’s poster of Reds

BACOLOD CITY — A councilor of the northern Negros Occidental city of Escalante, a lawyer who has longed worked with peasant and human rights groups, and a number of current and former leaders of activist groups were among more than 60 supposed communist rebels whose faces were printed on a police poster.

The National Federation of Sugar Workers issued an alert with a copy of the poster it said was being pinned up by the police force of the central Negros town of Moises Padilla.

The alert was released Monday, the same day human rights groups reported the arrest in Tarlac of Australian nun Patricia Fox, NDS, a volunteer with the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, by Immigration officers.

At the top of the poster is the message, “CNN PERSONALITIES, if seen in the area, please text 09099191720.”

CNN is the acronym used by state security forces to refer to members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

PNP poster accusing well-known personalities in Negros of being underground revolutionaries. (NFSW photo)

Among the legal personalities whose faces are on the poster are Karapatan-Negros secretary general Clarizza Singson, Zara Alvarez of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program, UMA secretary general John Lozande,NFSW secretary general Christian Tuayon, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Negros secretary general Benjamin Ramos, Escalante Councilor Bernardino Patigas, Julius Dagatan, Ronald Evidente, Ma Rina Amacio, Rogina Quilop, Lary Ocena and Anecita Rojo.

A number of them are also included in the list of alleged rebels that forms part of the Department of Justice’s petition to have the CPP and NPA proscribed as “terrorist organizations.”

On the other hand, Amihan, the National Federation of Peasant Women, said Fox was arrested around 3 p.m. and is currently detained at the Bureau of Immigration’s intelligence bureau.

The group said the nun, who joined a recent international solidarity and fact-finding mission in Mindanao that was reported harassed and hounded by state forces, could be deported.

Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS, in detention at the Bureau of Immigration. (Photo by Atty Ma Sol Taule)

Fox’ arrest came a day after Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the Party of European Socialists, was barred from entering the country in Cebu, where he was scheduled to attend the congress of Akbayan.

Filibeck, who visited the country last year as a member of a human rights fact-finding mission that criticized the government’s bloody war on drugs, was informed he was on a blacklist order and deported.

On Egai Talusan Fernandez’s ‘Padayon’ and today’s Lakbay Magsasaka culmination

by Walkie Miraña, Concerned Artists of the Philippines

THE mural says it all. The people’s suffering and oppression will give rise to people’s resistance.  It will serve as a fertile ground for the people’s struggle for genuine agrarian reform.

“Padayon” is a Visayan word which means to continue, persist or carry on. For this piece, Padayon meant “onwards with the people’s struggle for land.”  It was Talusan Fernandez’s contribution to the 32nd commemoration of the September 1985 Escalante Massacre that killed 20 farmers and injured dozens others.

The artwork is most relevant three decades after “Escam”. Farmers and agricultural workers continue to suffer from the exploitations that drove them to march that Friday morning that merited them nothing but tyranny and bullets.

“My memories of the incident and my recognition of the bravery of the survivors fueled me in creating this mural,” Talusan Fernandez said.

“This piece shows wave upon wave of protests from an outline of a shouting sacada’s (sugarcane farm worker) face that symbolizes their decades of struggle against their oppression. The barbed wire, which fuses with the planted and harvested sugarcane symbolizes the repression they struggle against,” he explained of his work.

Talusan Fernandez is a social realist artist since the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, producing nationalist propaganda materials since 1975 and paintings since 1976.

In his four decades of activism through art, he became one of the founding members of Kaisahan in 1977, Free the Artists Movement, Concerned Artists of the Philippines in 1983, and the Artista ng Bayan (ABAY).

Talusan Fernandez currently chairs the National Commission on Culture and the Arts  Committee on Visual Arts.

To the artist, “Padayon” only arouses more questions rather than answers.

PADAYON by Egai Talusan Fernandez, September 20, 2017, Escalante City, Negros Oriental

“Did their conditions change 32 years after the massacre? Have they been given justice and have they been given the land that rightfully belongs to them?” Talusan Fernandez asked.

Talusan Fernandez’s “Padayon” gains even more significance today as thousands of peasants are set to stage the biggest nationally-coordinated protest action to demand for genuine agrarian reform and to struggle against Rodrigo Duterte’s tyranny. Today is the last day of their nine-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka para sa Lupa at Laban sa Pasismo or #Lakbay Magsasaka as part of their annual commemoration of peasant month (October).

Like the wave of protests in Talusan Fernandez’s masterpiece, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Unyon ng mga Mangagawa sa Agrikultura shall hold the culminating protest action in Mendiola, Manila with farmers and peasant leaders from Southern Mindanao, Northern Mindanao, Negros, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Central Luzon, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley now getting ready at a protest camp at the Department of Agrarian Reform main office in Quezon City. Simultaneous peasant-led actions will take place in major cities and urban centers: Iloilo, Surigao, Tandag, Butuan, Davao, Bacolod and Cebu. #

Survivors reenact Luisita massacre on 12th anniversary

Survivors reenact the Hacienda Luisita massacre at the culmination of the three-day Cultural Caravan for Land, Justice in Peace commemorating the 12th anniversary of the carnage last November 15.

They also recounted the violent dispersal that killed seven strikers and injured scores of others.

Read more

Luisita farmers vow to continue struggle for land, justice and peace

Despite harassments and murders against their ranks, the farmers of Hacienda Luisita till the soil and raise their crops as part of their struggle to reclaim the land that has been decided to be theirs all along. Read more